In my personal experience, ineffective or inappropriate leadership styles can directly affect turnover in an office environment. As we’ve read, managers do not always equal leaders, and vice versa. (Northouse, 2013)
For the first five and a half years that I worked in the local branch of at a national payroll company, our manager was Chris. Our staff was made up of mostly tenured employees, who had been with the company anywhere from five to twenty years and had a great deal of knowledge, as well as the motivation to do the job. While each individual may have varied slightly, as a group we would have been considered D4 employees, with not only the competence, but the commitment as well. (Northouse, 2013) As the customer service part of the company, we were touted as the “front lines” of the company, working with clients every day. Our customer surveys, in the top five of the company, reflected this fact.
As a manager, Chris was very much a team manager, able to consider the corporate expectations and the local employees. (PSU, 2012) He made it clear that we had corporate goals to reach, while encouraging us to be a team. A typical weekly meeting included reviewing the goals, where we were in the progress, how we had succeeded with some and what needed done for others. In addition, there was typically some “down time” of socializing, allowing the group to veer off topic and have a laugh, and also roundtable time, giving each person time to bring up concerns, items of interest, or suggestions of how a goal could be reached. The entire staff understood that there was an open door policy, and if one of us had a suggestion on bettering a process or reaching a goal, Chris was happy to give that person the lead on implementation, while offering support when needed. The office ran like a well oiled machine, with limited office bickering, even when the entire supervisor and management team had to be out of town for training. After those five and a half years, Chris received a (well deserved) promotion and was transferred out of state. The office ran successfully for many weeks with only the supervisors and staff, while his replacement was hired.
Lisa was hired with a background in sales and sales management. Immediately, there was a clash between the customer service culture of our area, and her numbers driven sales background. Her leadership style was very much authority-compliance. She wanted the numbers to be reached and had little interest in individuals, beyond what we could do to get her there. (PSU, 2012) In addition, we quickly found that she had an inability to build relationships, with the “my way or the highway” attitude. (PSU, 2012) Within the first year, two or three long term employees were fired, in most cases shortly after they had continued to disagree with a process Lisa wanted to implement. Naturally, that built a culture of fear and insecurity, worried our jobs weren’t safe. She failed to take into consideration the expertise of her staff. Employees began to call out sick more, there were frequent conversations of dreading coming to work, and customer service scores began to waver.
Personally, I tried to wait it out and give her, and us, time to adjust to the change. After a year and a half, I was physically ill on Sunday night, dreading work. I was beginning to work weekends because Lisa didn’t want to pay overtime, it would look bad on her budget. So I was sent home early on Fridays and told to come in on the new pay period over the weekend. Concerned for my health and well being, I found another job. It was a company I could see myself working for, for many years, had it not be for the direct influence of her leadership or lack thereof. Ironically, at the same time I turned in my notice, two other employees also gave notice the same week, proving that leadership styles can absolutely affect employee retention within a company.
Penn State World Campus (2012). PSYCH 485 Lesson 5: Style and Situational Approaches. Retrieved on September 26, 2012, from https://courses.worldcampus.psu.edu/fa12/psych485/002/content/05_lesson/01_page.html
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice (6th edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.